The Unbearable Lightness of Being JT -or- You Mean I Have To Wear Clothes?

JT Ellison

I’ve been dreading this week for months.

I have a deadline November 1st, which is cool, I
have no real issue with deadlines. There’s a pretty line drawn that exists in a
nebulous timeframe in my mind that gets to be put on paper. No worries there.

No, it’s not the deadline I’ve been dreading. It’s something
much, much worse.

The contractors started Monday.

Last April, we looked up at the ceiling in the living room
and realized there was a long wet spot traversing about five feet of drywall.
We’d been having plumbing issues since we moved in the house last year, the
plumbers had been called out five times over a five-month period. Cracked
toilet, missing seals, leaky shower, the works. But we’d never seen the problem
from below. Turns out there was a massive leak in our master bath, a leak that
apparently has been going on for a LONG time. Well before we moved in. The leak
that has become the bane of our existence.

Normally it wouldn’t be such a huge deal. We saw the issue,
called out the plumber, who cut two large holes in our living room ceiling to
find where the water was coming from. The sub-floor was completely rotted out
and covered in an attractive mold. Major renovation project. Little problem.
That was the same day the horrible tornadoes cut a swath through Nashville,
leveling most of Gallatin, a city north of us. Which meant, you guessed it,
every contractor in town was called into action to rebuild the city.

So here we are, six months later. The contractors we wanted
to work with finally had an opening. So the boys started on Monday.

And I panicked.

People who know me well know I can be hard on myself about
being a more disciplined writer. I read stories about famous authors who have
these amazing schedules, hear from people who work full time jobs so they get
up at 4:00 AM to write. There are people who have kids, which take their
attention and energy, so they’ve developed highly specialized scheduling to be
able to work.

Me, I’m a little lacking in the discipline department. I’ve
struggled with my time – tried to set apart specific hours of the day to work
on the books, tried to find time to go to the gym, which often derails my
thought process, try to write before I open my email, after I open my email,
during opening my email. I didn’t realize until my “schedule” was shattered
that I actually do have a… method. I don’t want to call it discipline, because that
connotes something too much like work. But I do have a pretty intact system for
getting the work done.

Normally, I’m late to bed and late to rise. I usually get
logged in at 9 AM, read my mail, cruise through the blogs, deal with whatever
crisis has popped up overnight (and there’s always at least one.) That takes me
to noon, when I get some tea or some food, and start writing. I’m now a 7 day a
week worker because there’s so much to do. Killer Year eats time like a
monster, the new book is at a critical stage, there were short stories commitments
to fulfill (that’s done, thank all that’s holy), blogs to write, all that good
stuff. I spend the afternoons working on the books, usually up until 7 or 8,
when hubby arrives home and we eat. We watch whatever treat is on the TiVo, then
I do email and more internet surfing until I go to bed, midnight, one AM or so.

It’s not disciplined by any means, but I still average over
1,000 words a day, so I guess I can’t complain.

So my happy schedule is all screwed up now, because the
contractors show up at the ass crack of dawn. They’re here by 7 AM, which means
I have to get up by 6:45 and do something I never do. I must put on clothes.

Yes, I’ll admit it. My office is two doors down from my
bedroom. Nine times out of ten, I’ll roll out of the bed, manage to grab my
glasses, walk down the hall and log on. When I say my morning ablutions carry
me to noon – well, I guess I have to bare all here. In truth, most days, I look
at the clock, realize it’s noon and I’m still sitting in my t-shirt. I say oh,
you’d best put some clothes on.

Whatever demons we writers pay penance to for our muse also
give us the unparalleled privilege of working in our pajamas. I wouldn’t have
it any other way. Buck the man, and all that. The problem lies in two very
sweet contractors who are doing a lovely, albeit loud, job of remodeling my
master bath. I actually have to get up and get dressed in the morning. I go
downstairs, make myself some tea, make them a pot of coffee (also not my forte,
the first day I did it their eyes bugged out and their hands shook). And I get
started a little early. It’s not perfect, but we’re managing. Of course, I’m in
a semi-coma in the mornings, but this too shall pass.

Poor me. (A brief message from the contractors – Bang, Bang,

Does anyone else have problems setting and keeping to a
schedule? I can’t be the only one.

Wine of the Week: I’ve been boring and staid this week, and
am sticking with a simple bottle of Yellow Tail Shiraz.

For the white, an old favorite from my college days, Soave

13 thoughts on “The Unbearable Lightness of Being JT -or- You Mean I Have To Wear Clothes?

  1. Iden Ford

    JT this is such and strange coincidence. As I am reading your blog, there are four workman on our roof ripping up the old tar and preparing to replace it, as we had a leak in our kitchen ceiling this past Thursday. $7000 later I hired a company to re-do part of the roof and skylight. So I empathize as I am in my robe at 8 am listening to all this, the dog is going nuts, Maureen cannot work today because she has an office on the top floor, but we are having our Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend so we might go see the Andy Warhol exhibit at the AGO. Good luck with your reno.

  2. J.B. Thompson

    To quote my favorite writer, thank all that’s holy – I put the mug of tea down before I read this post. The ass crack of dawn and the coffee thing – you’re killing me. And I’m sitting here in my aqua comfy socks, salmon colored sweats, a light blue nightshirt and maroon Granny cardigan sweater (there’s a mental picture for you) – a pox on dress codes!! This is what writers wear when we write, darnit! Actually, it’s probably more than some wear (I heard once that Parnell Hall writes in his underwear – at Starbucks).

    And you know me (quite well), JT, I make a schedule and then it gets shot all to heck and back because that little inconvenient thing called life gets in the way. Sometimes you just have to shut the door and turn off the phone.

    Love seeing you share your lighter side, girlfriend – great post!

  3. Tasha Alexander

    Oh, JT, I don’t envy you construction noise.

    And it’s just not right to have to get dressed. If I didn’t have to take my son to the bus stop in the morning, I wonder if I’d ever wear anything but pyjamas…

  4. Tammy Cravit

    Does anyone else have problems setting and keeping to a schedule? Hmm…what’s a schedule? Oh, that’s those things OTHER people have where they get to know what they’re going to be doing in 20 minutes. Now I remember.

    Note to self: foster parenting is definitely rewarding and worthwhile, but it sure puts a dent in a girl’s writing schedule. So does that pesky “make a living” thing, since I’m not (yet) writing full-time.

    Ah, well…it may be a crazy ride, but I’m enjoying life all the same.

  5. Pari

    Argh, J.T.,You’ve hit such a sore point.

    I’m a tremendously productive person when I can nail my butt to the chair. But life — in the form of young-ish kids and a stressed hubby — help to distract. So does Tae Kwon Do and growing older and feeling a commitment to staying healthy and trying to get enough sleep . . .

    I do write every day, but often it’s my nonfiction that takes precedence because I can do it in the small spaces between other demands. For me, fiction takes more effort — I have to go to that world I’ve created and reacquaint myself with it each time.

    Right now, I’m working on two short stories and two books and it feels like I’m not making progress in anything.

    SooooooooooooooI take an assignment for another article instead.

    When I wrote the blog piece about quotations, I found one that ran something like this: Being a writer is like having homework for the rest of your life.

    I don’t have time to find the attribution right now — but if I do, I might send that author a thank-you note.

  6. JT Ellison

    Homework. No kidding! But it’s a good kind, you know? The kind you were thrilled to do, like math from 4th grade, or spelling in 2nd. I guess if I look at it as a learning possibility, I’ll get along better.Tasha, with all your adorable clothes, I’d wear them to be instead of pj’s.Tammy, more power to you girl.

  7. Rob Gregory Browne

    Construction noise. Yum. Have laptop will travel.

    As for setting schedules, I don’t have one anymore. I just write when I can write and with a deadline looming that’s pretty much ALL THE FREAKIN’ TIME!

  8. Bill Cameron

    I can’t not write outside the house. House = dishes, phone, email, clients (I work from home), laundry, did I mention the dishes? Poodle, Her Royal Highness the Cat. Mr. Glubber (he’s a leopard gecko). Coffee shop + laptop = yummy coffee and writing.

    I just can’t focus on writing at home.

  9. Elaine

    Schedule? Is that a new word? Somehow I can’t seem to decipher it.

    Okay, I confess. I’m lying. Yes, I have a schedule. It ain’t grand or earthshaking, but it does at least work. I have to admit, though – I need a shower, clothes-as in jeans & sweatshirt, a pot of coffee, the morning paper, do my ‘Hunger Site’ clicks, three to four cigarettes, answer e-mails, and them I’m READY. Whether I manage to get anything legible accomplished-is another story.


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